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Q: Do you believe this guy?!

April 14, 2009 | By Emilie A. | 24 answers | Expired: 1941 days ago

Emilie A.

CLAYTON — Eleven months ago, supporters of Stray Rescue celebrated after winning a $1 million shelter makeover contest, but on Monday they stood solemnly in the rain as they learned about a change in fortune.

Stray Rescue will still get a new shelter, but aside from a settlement of an undisclosed amount it will be without the further involvement of zootoo.com, the website that sponsored the contest. The makeover won't be nearly as grand either; it'll have to be scaled back, and that means more delays, said Kathleen England, a spokeswoman for the animal welfare group.

"Stray Rescue has a lot of work to do," she said.

In recent months, negotiations over the $1 million prize had turned into a dogfight between Stray Rescue's founder Randy Grim and multimillionaire Richard Thompson. Thompson, former chief executive of Meow Mix, founded the zootoo.com website.

England said they thought they had won $1 million in cash for a makeover, but later learned that the makeover can come from services and in-kind benefits as well as cash.

"I don't know if I'd call it a scam, but it's very misleading," England said. "If we would have known that we were going to have to go through all this, I don't think Randy would have ever entered into this contest."

Thompson declined to comment about specifics of the wrangling Monday after he and his lawyers met for 90 minutes with England and Stray Rescue's attorney Ronald Compton in Clayton. Outside, about 60 supporters waited, some with dogs, for word on the negotiations.

Before the meeting, England said they planned to sever ties with Thompson, but they still hoped to get some money, and that apparently is what happened. Details of the agreement, however, were not disclosed.

Stray Rescue said it was proceeding with plans to rehab a 16,000-square-foot warehouse at 2320 Pine Street that A.G. Edwards donated in 2007.

The relationship with Thompson and zootoo.com couldn't be repaired after the two sides disagreed about money, fundraising tactics and treatment of subcontractors, England said. Work on the project had stopped.

In addition, England said news of their contest win had hurt Stray Rescue's ability to raise money because donors mistakenly believed the group was awash in cash.

Meanwhile, zootoo.com, a website pet owners use to share information and connect with other animal lovers, is wrapping up another shelter makeover contest. The Central Missouri Humane Society in Columbia, Mo., is among the 10 finalists.

Patty Forister, executive director of the shelter, said Monday that she felt bad for Grim, but said Thompson had been clear with them that the winner was not going to get a $1 million check from zootoo.com.

"No project of this magnitude is going to be fast or flawless, and we understand that it's going to be some hard work," she said. "We've got to agree on plans and work together for our shelter, and I hope we get the opportunity to do that."

Janice Wolf, who runs a small, independent animal rescue in Gassville, Ark., said Thompson promised her on the Ellen DeGeneres show to build a barn and keep her in animal food for a year.

She got the barn and some of the food, but, she said, "he pressured local businesses to donate everything."

*Poster's Note* I am voting for my fave too. Hopefully there wont be any more litigation in Missouri. Hint hint LOL

Readers' Answers (24)
Eight Pond Farm
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Apr 14, 2009

oh. and i just though of another thing.......

i just can't get the image out of my head: Richard Thompson: ear-to-ear white tooth smile, holding up a giant check for one million dollars. that 'gets' me. if it hadn't been for all the hype and publicity it wouldn't have made this backpeddling quite so bad.

Thumbs Up: 6 | Thumbs up!

Beaglemutz
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Apr 14, 2009

He also made eveyone PAY THEIR OWN WAY to Orlando to parade them around the HSUS conference for 5 minutes. Some of these folks had NO MONEY and the promise of 1 Million. Problem was, the WINNERS ALREADY KNEW before they arrived. Way to rip off the other shelters!!! Buyer beware.

Thumbs Up: 3 | Thumbs up!

Eight Pond Farm
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Apr 14, 2009

I do believe that we don't have all the facts. So just judging from what the media has produced for us, i'd have to say that the settlement is probably a very good thing. It is concrete dollars and cents. No ambiguity. Stray Rescue has a definite dollar amount, therefore a true budget, and can proceed with it's makeover accordingly. This is how it should be. ZooToo's methodology of strong-arming the contractors into donating time/materials is just not going to fly given the state of the economy. Contractors do not have extra money floating around these days. Perhaps we can blame The Economy for all of this and not any entities...LOL.

Thumbs Up: 3 | Thumbs up!

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